On Monday night, a five-minute video emerged showing seven Ottawa Senators in an Uber, laughing about their team’s terrible penalty kill and badmouthing one of their assistant coaches. The video was likely recorded from a reversed dashcam, facing into the cabin. The players involved were Chris Wideman, Matt Duchene, Thomas Chabot, Chris Tierney, Colin White, Alex Formenton, and Dylan DeMelo.
According to the geographic coordinates displayed on the video’s frame, the exact location takes place around a restaurant hub on N 98thAvenue in Phoenix, Arizona. The Senators were recently visiting this city on October 29 and 30, for a game against the Arizona Coyotes. Ottawa was defeated in a lopsided affair, 5-1.
Invasion of Privacy
Initially, some reacted by faulting the Senator players involved. However, all viewers would do well to remember that this was a blatant act of privacy invasion. The problem does not lie with the passengers having a private conversation in the vehicle. The problem lies with the fact that the conversation was secretly filmed and recorded without consent, compounded with the fact this video was also disseminated publicly.
Uber Canada general manager Rob Khazzam said the following via Twitter:
“A video was released by the media today of several Uber passengers being filmed without their consent while having a private discussion during a trip in Phoenix. This is a clear violation of our terms of service and we worked hard to investigate this issue. Filming or recording passengers without their consent is totally unacceptable and if reported/detected, we will investigate and take action to preserve our communities [sic] privacy and integrity. In this specific case, we made efforts to have the video taken down.”
The Ottawa Senators communications team was quick to respond to this issue. The hockey club made a point to emphasize that players and coaches are united. Through Twitter, the team released two statements. The first was from players involved in the incident:
“We want to apologize publicly to Marty Raymond, our teammates and coaches for our comments in Phoenix Arizona on October 29. Our private conversation was recorded without our knowledge or consent. We’re passionate about our team, and focusing on growing together. We are grateful for the support of our fans and organization. This is an important learning experience, and we will do better.”
The second was from Senators head coach Guy Boucher:
“Nothing is more important to us during this rebuild than making sure our players and coaches are fully committed to our plan, our values and our system of play. We have every confidence in Marty Raymond’s coaching; in the effort and determination of our team; and in the sincerity of our players’ apology. We are now treating this as a team matter, and will be making no further comment to the media.”
Discretion’s the Lesson
This incident is a serious wake-up call to professionals of all types and backgrounds, whether it’s athletes, celebrities, politicians, or people in the business world. In this day and age, anything can be filmed, recorded, and disseminated very easily. When discussing anything sensitive, it is wise to be cognizant and cautious about what is said, where it’s said, when it’s said, how it’s said, and who hears it. What happened to these seven players could happen to anyone. Sound discretion is the best protection, and applying mindful discretion in public is a key lesson to take away.
In the coming days, it will be interesting to see whether the Ottawa Senators will take any legal action to investigate this video’s production and distribution. Owner Eugene Melnyk has a history of rising up to protect his players, something he is rarely credited for doing.
In 2014, Melnyk launched an investigation against Matt Cooke in an attempt to prove Cooke intended to injure former captain Erik Karlsson. Although this was a different scenario, the principle remains the same. Seven players of this NHL team, and the Ottawa Senators brand, suffered embarrassment and reputable harm when that video was wrongfully released. Star players and players key to the team’s future core were victims of this act.
Legal action from the Senators would send a strong message to the perpetrator(s). It would also show some backbone from the hockey club, which needs to earn respect back from its fan base. Many unanswered questions remain. Who published this video, why, and under what circumstances, are just a few.
People use ride sharing services like Uber, Lyft, and taxi’s, all the time. People also tend to use these services when they’re not at their best, such as coming home from a late night on the town. One can only imagine what else has been secretly recorded in another place and time, involving other people of significance. Phoenix, Arizona is a long way from home for the Ottawa Senators. Despite the embarrassment and reputable damage this video has caused, it seems the players involved and the coaching staff are united and ready to move on.
Billy Morrison covers the Ottawa Senators and the Atlantic Division for Full Press Coverage. Follow Billy on Twitter, @BillyMorrison01.